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Diplomatic Security System Deficiency

Posted June. 28, 2004 22:25,   


The death of Kim Sun-il, an employee of the Gana Trade Corporation, has made public the Korean government’s inadequate system to confront threats from terrorists worldwide, and raised the need to reform diplomacy for national security from the bottom up.

In particular, there are criticisms raised among the political parties that the National Security Council (NSC), which is supposed to play the main role in the “systematic application of diplomatic security,” is not doing what it’s supposed to do.

Although steps to improve the NSC, such as increasing the number of its members from 10 to 70, and changing its head to an official at the ministerial level, were taken since the Roh administration, the NSC’s ability to unify and coordinate as the commander of the diplomatic system has been taxed in cases like the North Korean nuclear talks and its conflict with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade over the dispatch of forces to Iraq.

Park Jin, assemblyman of the Grand National Party, said on June 28 that “since the NSC dominated all diplomatic decisions, the diplomatic security system has been congested,” and he added “the ‘code matching’ inside the diplomatic security team is also a factor that hinders the system to work properly.”

Kim Jong-in, assemblyman of the Millennium Democratic Party, said, “All major diplomatic security organizations are just watching what the NSC is doing. Particularly, the NSC is concentrating too much just on the North Korean issues, because most of the major officials of the NSC are North Korea experts rather than diplomatic security experts.”

Also on this day, the Uri Party formed a policy planning team to enhance the diplomatic security system with Kim Sung-gon as the leader. This team is planning to test whether the diplomatic security system is working properly, how working relationships are made among the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of National Defense, National Intelligence Service and NSC, and make suggestions to improve it.

The need to reform the diplomatic security system has been raised inside the government as well. An official at the National Intelligence Service said “Although the NSC is not responsible for the death of Kim Sun-Il, the NSC’s roles and functions should be dealt with in public.” He added, “There has even been some distortion of information, because of the NSC’s domination”

Yoon Duk-min, professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, said, “Although the government has made some countermeasures against terrorism, it’s time to check what essential plans, concerning the dispatch of forces to Iraq, have been made to protect Korean nationals abroad.”

Yong-Gwan Jung Hyong-gwon Pu yongari@donga.com bookum90@donga.com